Monday, February 3, 2020

Surviving Suffering

To those impacted by the devastating fire at the Old School Apartments last week, I offer my heartfelt condolences, prayers for God’s comforting presence, and help with things you need. In the next few paragraphs I want to offer you some foundational truths intended to bring encouragement and healing in troubled times.

I’d also like to say a brief word of appreciation to all those who have already responded to this crisis. From the first responders to neighbors to family members to those helping organize relief efforts to everyone who’s shown love to the hurting, thanks for coming together to assist in time of need.

When life brings pain and suffering, we need to know where to turn. We need to know there’s hope. We need to know God.

Many times we ask, “Why me?”, and wonder, “Where’s God when I need Him?”, and question, “How can God allow bad things to happen like this?”

These principles I’m going to share with you here hardly begin to scratch the surface, but I offer these truth anchors in prayerful hope that you’ll find a place to hang on. In our Sunday School class at Petersburg First Baptist Church we’ve been studying these very questions and discovering some helpful and hopeful realities. Here are some for starters.

1. Suffering is a part of living in a fallen world. God created a paradise for Adam and Eve. Everything was good and perfect until Satan tempted Eve to disobey God, and it all began to unravel. Disease, brokenness, pain, hardship, death – all can be traced back to the fall in the Garden. We live in a world cursed by the consequences of sin, but those who know Jesus are waiting with hope for the day of redemption through Christ.

2. God’s actions are often beyond our understanding, but we can trust Him. God’s thoughts and ways are much higher than ours and His greatness is unfathomable. Charles Spurgeon said, “Even when we can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” He doesn’t owe us explanations, and it would be the height of folly for us in our human finiteness to blame the omnipotent God for our hardships. Read Job’s story in the Bible and pay attention to God’s response in chapters 38-42.

3. Jesus willingly experienced pain and suffering for our salvation. Here’s the best news I can give you today. Because Jesus endured the horrors of crucifixion on our behalf, for our sin, He not only knows our pain and sympathizes with our weaknesses, but gives us confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). He endured the cross for the joy set before Him – the eternal glory that will far outweigh this light and momentary trouble. And in Him we too can know the joy and hope of the eternal life to come.

Much more could be said, and I’d be happy to talk with or pray with you if you’d like. Contact me at 217-632-2488. May the God of all comfort fill you with peace in Christ Jesus.